[prin-suh-puh-lee, -sip-lee]


chiefly; mainly.

Origin of principally

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at principal, -ly

Synonyms for principally Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for principally

Contemporary Examples of principally

Historical Examples of principally

  • I landed twice in this way, but the danger was principally in the first affair.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • The giver and the accepter are principally answerable in an unjust donation.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • I am told that these people now on board are principally from the South of England?

  • Education was principally for those who expected to become priests or monks.

    Introductory American History

    Henry Eldridge Bourne

  • During the collation the conversation was principally military.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

British Dictionary definitions for principally



mainly or most importantly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for principally

mid-14c., "mostly, mainly; most importantly," from principal (adj.) + -ly (2). Late 14c. as "first of all." Meaning "for the most part" attested by 1832.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper